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Sam Shields Is Making His Mark

November 12, 2010

Wisconsinites knew Sam Shields for his electrifying speed before he was even a member of the Green Bay Packers. During the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl, Shields, who played collegiately at the University of Miami, returned the opening kickoff 98-yards. The touchdown was negated by penalty, but Shields’ fast feet left an impression on everyone who watched the nationally televised contest.

Despite only playing one year of cornerback at Miami, Shields found multiple suitors after going undrafted in the 2010 draft. Perhaps it was Shields’ speed and raw ability that piqued the Packers’ interest, but Shields chose the Packers because he knew the team would be his best shot at a spot on the 53-man roster.

Early in training camp, struggles with catching kickoffs and punts led to questions about Shields even making the team. His early struggles failed to deter the young man, however, and nine weeks into the regular season, Shields not only has made the team, but has a lockdown on the nickel cornerback position and has also been named the starting kickoff returner.

His play has surprised many, including the Packers coaching staff.

“Back in training camp I know everybody was concerned about going into the season with Sam Shields and where we’d be,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Not many people knew who Sam Shields was, and I didn’t know much about Sam Shields.”

Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt also praised the collegiate receiver-turned-cornerback for his quick development at a relatively new position.

“When we first got him, he didn’t understand coverages,” Whitt said. “Just base coverages and base techniques. Now he’s a defensive back. He’s not a receiver playing defensive back.”

Whereas Sam Shields is becoming a household name in Green Bay, defensive coordinators around the league are still learning about the Packers’ secondary. With Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams manning the corners, the logical place to throw the ball would be at the nickel back. However, during Green Bay’s 45-7 rout of the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night, Sam Shields proved that theory wrong with an amazing one-handed interception of a Jon Kitna-to-Miles Austin fade route.

Whitt continues to praise Shields and said that the 22-year-old “wants to be Charles Woodson.” While Shields has a long road ahead of him to follow in the footsteps of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the Packers may have uncovered an undrafted gem that could eventually replace Woodson when he finally decides to hang up his cleats.

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